Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

If you are familiar with Bethlehem books, you may recognize this author who also wrote Warrior Scarlet and The Lantern Bearers. She has pulled off a remarkable piece of historical fiction in Eagle of the Ninth.

It is a matter of historical record that sometime in 117 A.D., the Ninth Legion of Rome marched off into northern Britain to deal with an uprising and were never heard from again…. It is also part of the historical record that 1800 years later, a wingless Roman eagle was dug up in a part of England. From these 2 facts, Rosemary Sutcliffe invents a tale of a Roman centurion, Marcus, who fights, gets injured, and after recovering, goes in search of the lost Ninth legion. His father was in the legion, and Marcus intends to find out what happened and then recover the Eagle.

It’s a story that creates a vivid picture of the battles a Roman Legion experienced, the life a Roman household, and the resistance and contrary culture of the partially-conquered British tribes. The coliseum comes to life but not in a glorification of Roman gladiatorial violence and death.

I thought the story got a little long-winded at times, but it was an above-average historical fiction novel.


Historical Fiction: 100 A.D.; Rome


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